Title

Pentimento

Date of Submission

Spring 2013

Academic Program

Photography

Project Advisor 1

An-My Le

Abstract/Artist's Statement

pen·ti·men·to

a visible trace of earlier painting beneath a layer or layers of paint on canvas; from Italian, literally ‘repentance’

For me, every face is a masterpiece painting. It is my task as a portraitist to reveal or lure to the surface the untold versions concealed beneath.

I remember when I was y­oung, I had a fascination with mirrors. Easy to write off as vanity, certainly, but also perhaps indicative of a certain sense of masquerade, or an expectation that the answers to my biggest questions, my grandest curiosities, could be found in the human face. Pentimento began as an exploration of vanity, as it relates to aging and the inevitable nostalgia we develop for our former selves. It became, in fact, another sort of mirror.

I see her and she sees me. There is empowerment in being seen. Maybe I want her approval: to have her look at me as I look at her, with admiration and awe and a sort of nostalgia for her perspective (inasmuch as it is possible to be nostalgic for things you have not yet experienced). Or is it that I assume she’s lost her place in the world, and I want to give it back to her – or find it for her? I want to ask her so many questions, but at the same time to bask in the silence of our exchange, the mystery of her gaze, and perhaps in my power to create for myself, through the process of selection and omission, a sort of fantasy of what is to come. In doing this, I feel I am taking the same risk that she has taken: trusting the way the woman on the other side of the lens presents herself, taking her at her word. Each of us sees the other as at the height of being, and at this point of intersection, I feel we can begin to lend reality to what is imagined.

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